x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

David Haye eyes Abu Dhabi showdown with Klitschkos

The Briton wants to unify boxing's heavyweight division in Abu Dhabi - and he thinks it would do wonders for the UAE's reputation.

David Haye beat the giant Nikolai Valuev of Russia on November 7 2009 to win the WBA heavyweight title in Nuremberg, south Germany. He defends his title tomorrow against John Ruiz.
David Haye beat the giant Nikolai Valuev of Russia on November 7 2009 to win the WBA heavyweight title in Nuremberg, south Germany. He defends his title tomorrow against John Ruiz.

MANCHESTER // David Haye has his sights on unifying boxing's heavyweight division in Abu Dhabi - and he thinks it would do wonders for the UAE's reputation. "It's something we have talked about," the British boxer told The National at the weigh-in for his fight tomorrow against John Ruiz. "There has not been a big title fight in the Middle East and a heavyweight title fight is the biggest you can get.

"It would be huge for putting Abu Dhabi on the map. Look what the 'Rumble in the Jungle' did for Zaire. No one ever heard of Zaire until then. After Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman for the title, no one forgets it." Haye, the WBA champion, must first win his mandatory defence against Ruiz. If that happens, he said, he could come to Abu Dhabi to fight either, or both, of the Klitschko brothers, who between them hold three other heavyweight titles.

Haye and Adam Booth, his manager and trainer, have discussed the idea of a bout in the Middle East later this year, he said. "What I want to achieve in boxing is worldwide," he said. "I want to show I'm not just a British commodity, but that people respect me all over the world and believe that I am the best fighter on the planet. To do that you have to fight the best and fight all over the world."

Haye has long coveted a battle with the Klitschkos. Wladimir holds the WBO and IBF titles and his brother Vitali has the WBC belt. "I believe I'm the best now. Some people out there don't believe I am and would like to see me against one of the Klitschko brothers to show that. When that opportunity arises, I'll take it with both hands and prove everyone wrong." He will move a step closer to that if he can beat Ruiz - he predicted a knockout finish. "I am confident, I always am," he said. "It's always my plan to knock out my opponents."

akhan@thenational.ae